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FLYING INTO A VOLCANO
White Island, 48 kilometres offshore from Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty, is one of the most accessible active volcanoes on earth – so accessible, in fact, that you can land a helicopter in the crater. Frontier Helicopters runs tours from Whakatane Airport that take in the steam vents, fumaroles and ashen slopes, stopping for a hike around the crater. See frontierhelicopters.co.nz.
What do you do when an old branch railway line is closed down? Why, you adapt golf carts to run along the tracks and let people drive themselves through gorgeous countryside, of course. Forgotten World Adventures offers trips of varying lengths through numerous tunnels, past country towns and hillsides, between Okahukura and Stratford. See forgottenworldadventures.co.nz.
FISHING FROM A JET BOAT
Two things New Zealand does extremely well are trout fishing and jet boats. And now Fishjet in Te Anau has come up with the marvellous plan of combining the two. Heading down the Waiau River next to Fiordland National Park, the boat pulls off all the tricks and spins, then settles in for a couple of hours of coaxing out brown and rainbow trout. See fishjet.co.nz.
Pancake Rocks were formed 30 million years ago from minute fragments of dead marine creatures and plants landed on the seabed about 2 km below the surface. There are one of a wonderful natural place. I wonder how the nature makes it. ✨ When I've been there, it nearly sunset so it looked gold and the sky was blue. 🌏 Awesome!!! ❤️ #travel #pancakerocks #punakaiki #nz #NewZealand #nzroadtrip #UntilTheJourneyEnd #nzmustdo 🇳🇿
Also on the tick list for Te Anau should be Real Journeys' trip to the glow-worm caves. After a boat trip across Lake Te Anau, visitors end up clambering through the caves on the western shore, then getting into a smaller, tin boat. The lights then go off as the boat floats through the caves, the walls and roof lit by the glow-worms that live there. See realjourneys.co.nz.
The glow-worms aren't just limited to the South Island. The caves at Waitomo in the north are full of them, too. It's possible to do boat trips there, but the true thrill-seeker can up the ante on the Black Abyss experience. This involves abseiling down into the caves, taking zip lines through them and downstream floating in rubber tubes. See waitomo.com.
Kiwis might be New Zealand's national bird, but the comical little darlings can be surprisingly tricky to spot in the wild. That's partly because they're usually nocturnal, and partly because they prefer to hang out in spots where humans rarely venture. The best spot for sightings is Stewart Island, where they're relatively undisturbed and less timid. Bravo Adventure Cruises runs a boat trip out to a remote beach where the big-beaked beauties like to hang out. See kiwispotting.co.nz.
See also: The best day walk in New Zealand
At Tatapouri on the East Cape of the North Island, wild stingrays have progressively become content with human contact. Dive Tatapouri's Reef Ecology Tour kits guests out with waders, gets them walking out into the ocean at low tide and teaches them about the fish swimming around their legs. And then the rays come over to feed. You hold fish out in your hand, and they suck it up, vacuum-cleaner like. See www.divetatapouri.com .
THE RERE ROCKSLIDE
Dive Tatapouri can also kit out adventurers with body boards to take on the Rere Rockslide, a natural slope in the Wharekopae River with just enough water running over the top of it to make for a speedy 70-metre plunge into the pools below. It's marvellously untamed – rocky bobbles in the slope can send you in all directions. And it looks much steeper from the top than it does the bottom. See divetatapouri.com.
Queenstown isn't exactly short of adrenalin rushes, but one of the weirdest is also the most fun for soft adventurers. The Luge at the Skyline Gondola station sees you sit in a rudimentary go-kart, then charge around a fairly steep and often bumpy downhill racetrack. See skyline.co.nz/queenstown/luge.
KAYAKING ON TASMAN LAKE
High up in the Alps, in the shadow of Mount Cook, an extraordinary glacier lake has formed. Tasman Lake would be beautiful to kayak on purely based on the mountain views, but what makes it truly special are the icebergs that periodically break off the glacier. Glacier Kayaking takes visitors out for a paddle around the baby bergs. See mtcook.com/glacier-sea-kayaking.
The writer was a guest of Tourism New Zealand.